Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Disptach has a must-read today about the comeback of former Cardinals pitcher Seth Maness.
Maness injured his UCL last year and went under the knife. But rather than Tommy John surgery, he underwent a potential replacement for that familiar procedure called “primary repair.” Rather than reconstructing the entire ligament it reinforces it at the bone. The key: if it works, it can cut at least five months off of the typical Tommy John recovery time. His surgery was August 18. Goold said he’s poised to pitch from a mound as early as next week.
Maness is the first big league pitcher to try it, so he’s worth watching. That is, if he gets the chance. The Cards non-tendered him last fall, so he’s a free agent. But he’s rehabbing. He may or may not pitch in a big league game in 2017, but if he does, he may blaze a new trail.
The Twins have signed Ryan Vogelsong to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.
Vogelsong missed over two months last season after being hit in the face by a pitch. He didn’t pitch all that well when he was healthy, though, posting a 4.81 ERA and 61/41 K/BB ratio over 82.1 innings with the Pirates. He’s 39 but he could probably still eat innings for a non-contender, so Minnesota is probably a good landing spot for him.
Wally Backman left the Mets organization in September after several years of service as their Triple-A manager. This year he’ll be managing in the Mexican League. He says that’s all he can do because he can’t find a job in baseball in the United States. He says that’s because Mets GM Sandy Alderson is blackballing him.
He tells his story to Bob Klapisch of NorthJersey.com, saying his job search has hit “a bad roadblock,” and that Alderson is the roadblock. “People are telling me, ‘Sandy has it in for you. You’re being blackballed,’” he tells Klapisch. Which people? Backman isn’t saying.
What baseball people say to one another on the phone isn’t something we’re privy to, but it’s also the case that Backman’s dismissal came because he was insubordinate. As Marc Carig reported back in September, Backman would not follow team orders with respect to playing time and playing context for prospects. Here’s Backman today, still not understanding that:
“I’ve talked to several teams, and every one of them has said, ‘You’re overqualified.’ How can you be overqualified when you’re trying to win? No one is overqualified unless there’s something else going on.”
Someone needs to tell Backman that “trying to win” is not the job description of a minor league manager in this day and age. In today’s game, minor league managers are expected to follow the organization’s orders with respect to player development, right down to where in the batting order a player is supposed to hit and whether he is to face right-handed or left-handed pitching. Backman, it was reported, ignored those orders because he wanted to win any given game at hand.
Old baseball men like Backman may not like the fact that a minor league manager’s job is not to manage to win each game as opposed to serve the club’s player development needs, but it’s a fact of life. Also a fact of life: if you do not do what your boss orders you to do, you’re going to get fired. A further fact of life: someone who was let go for not handling prospects the way an organization wanted them to is not going to be a desirable candidate for any other minor league job.
Is Sandy Alderson talking smack about Wally Backman to other organizations? I have no idea. But I do know that it would not take such a blackballing for Backman to be seen as an undesirable minor league manager in 2017.